The Best Brain Food for Children

It’s funny but not funny when I enter a room and forget why I went in there, or begin to make a list and then have to pause and rethink what I was going to write. Can you relate?

When we’re young our minds are like sponges, grasping so much around us both literally and figuratively. Our children learn so many things in a short span of time and it’s amazing to see their little minds at work. I remember my children memorizing books, movies and songs so quickly. Was that because I was feeding them such healthy foods? I really do hope that played an integral part.

No matter what our age, the brain is the most critical part of our body and we want to feed it with a nutritious diet. Even in the womb, a baby’s brain is affected by what their mother eats. Our brains are made up of fat and need good essential fats but primarily the brain is nourished from glucose. Carbohydrates are the main source of that glucose, and provide the fuel and energy source for the brain.

You may know that glucose is a sugar, but eating too many simple or refined sugars (as found in white bread, desserts, pop, etc.) elevate blood sugar and the body will respond by elevating the hormone insulin. This will cause inflammation in the body and the brain.

We want to feed the brain with good proteins like beans and organic grass-fed meat and poultry. Eggs are very beneficial for brain health, along with nut butters – opt for those rich in omega-3s like almond, sunflower or pumpkin butters. Other sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, almonds and walnuts. (Did you ever notice that walnuts look like a brain?)

Children’s brains and overall health can also benefit from fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants like blueberries, pomegranates, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries. Wholesome greens like broccoli, spinach, kale and carrots are full of fibre and will help keep blood sugar balanced, especially combined with walnuts or sprinkled with chia seeds or hemp hearts.

Aside from encouraging kids to be eating these healthful foods for brain development, it’s also wise to avoid the artificial colours that are so common in snack foods. These, along with artificial sweeteners and some preservatives, are brain disruptors.

“In Canada, manufacturers have the option of declaring colours by name or by the general term ‘colour,’” according to Gary Scott Holub, media relations officer for Health Canada, who was quoted in a Parenting Canada article by Rosie Schwartz. There is a regulatory process is in the works, Schwartz notes, but as of that 2014 article there was no date for implementation.

Until the labeling regulations catch up, you can avoid the issue completely by choosing whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.

Like the rest of your body, your brain needs proper hydration, so be sure the whole family drinks enough water. You can also feed your children’s brains by surrounding them with positive experiences. Music, books, and conversation all stimulate brain development and cognitive function. Too much exposure to electromagnetic radiation can also effect the brain. So encourage outdoor activities and games that do not require videos, tablets or cell phones, but fire up the imagination instead.

Speak to your pediatrician or general practitioner about a good multivitamin/mineral formula for your child’s brain health and development. Your holistic practitioner also has a good grasp of what to look for and can recommend some wonderful options.

Feed the brain with all things good and you will see the rewards tenfold.

For more information on brain food contact Katherine at Make Good Choices.